India vs England: VVS Laxman prefers Hardik Pandya over Karun Nair for Rajkot Test


That India are the clear favourites against England is no surprise Predictions of a 4-1 or 5-0 win for India coming from Kapil Dev and VVS Laxman just add to this feeling. TOI caught up with the two legends for an exclusive chat.
India has finally agreed to try the Decision Review System. Your take…
Kapil: It’s good. If the team, management and the entire cricketing world is looking to use DRS, then why shouldn’t we? Yes, a lot of cricketers have said it’s not 100 percent foolproof, but nothing is 100 percent foolproof. You can at least reduce the number of mistakes. That’s what technology is all about.
Alastair Cook recently said England are the obvious underdogs going into the series…
VVS: It’s a wrong way to start any series, especially when the captain is giving such statements. It shows the mindset of their players. They need to show fight and forget what happened in Bangladesh. If they are able to pile up a big first-innings total, they will get back confidence.
Kapil: It could also be a part of their strategy. It helps them to deal with pressure.
England’s spin trio of Gareth Batty, Adil Rashid and Zafar Ansari has a collective experience of 14 Tests, while 32-match ‘veteran’ Mooen Ali admitted he is nowhere near where he wants to be as a spinner…
VVS: They have some good fast bowlers but the spin department looks weak. Mooen is one of the best spinners England have. He bowls within his limitations and has good control. But Adil Rashid and Gareth Batty can leak a lot of runs. As a spinner, if you concede more than four runs per over, then you will not be able to put any pressure on the batsmen.
Kapil: If you are playing in India and do not have a good spin attack then nothing is going to work. You are going to struggle. You can’t expect fast bowlers to take 25-30 wickets in the five matches.
Are England over-dependent on Cook & Root?
VVS: England should not be over-dependent on Cook and Root. New Zealand succumbed because of their over-dependence on Kane Williamson. England have enough ability. Cook will be the key. Joe Root, like Kohli, is exceptionally talented. I would love to see Jos Buttler play.Five days are very good. You want results. Sometimes, when you are playing four days, it might end up in a draw. You are seeing some exciting matches. I don’t see any reason for any such change.
Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the Test squad surprised many. Your thoughts…
VVS: Hardik is an excellent allrounder. I think finding allrounders, the skill-set that they have to offer, is very rare in India. It is very important to nurture, mould and groom such players. The selectors have done a right job by picking him in the team. But they need to show patience as you can’t expect results overnight. In fact, I would have three spinners, one fast bowler and one all-rounder in the squad. I would go for Hardik. I would love to see five bowlers play. I would love to see Ashwin bat at six.

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